Sophomore season is magic for McDonogh's Working Coach of the Year 1992 ALL-BALTIMORE COUNTY/BALTIMORE CITY FOOTBALL TEAM

November 29, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

McDonogh football coach Mike Working can call his Eagles' 17-7 season-ending victory over then-sixth-ranked Gilman "his crowning achievement" for three reasons.

First, it capped a 7-3 campaign for the Eagles, who won for the fifth straight time, nearly reversing last year's 2-8 record, and earned them a No. 15 ranking in The Baltimore Sun poll.

Second, it earned Working The Baltimore Sun's 1992 All-Baltimore County/City Football Coach of the Year honors in only his second season.

And third, it earned Working a bald head.

"I promised the entire student body that I'd let them shave my head if we beat Gilman," said Working, whose scalping was televised on a local news broadcast. "Boy, the student body really enjoyed that one."

It also enjoyed a refreshing season of Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference football as the Eagles posted a 6-3 league record, good for a fourth-place tie with No. 8 Gilman.

Early on, Working experimented with the team's nine starting sophomores. Then, midway through the year, Working placed them in strategic positions where they could maximize their potential.

Sophomore quarterback Bobby Sabelhaus (6 feet 6, 210 pounds) was among the area's leaders, completing 117 of 209 passes for 1,925 yards and 14 touchdowns; sophomore receiver Dennis Badham (5-9, 170) caught 42 passes for 893 yards and nine touchdowns; and sophomore Dwayne Stukes (5-11, 165) had seven interceptions, including one for a 92-yard touchdown return, and grabbed 24 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns.

Working made his task easier by delegating authority to his seven-man assistant coaching staff, including defensive coordinators Lynn Badham and Darren Ford, offensive line coach Greg Baldwin, running backs/quarterback coach Rob Rice, and Marty McKibbin and Rob Smoot, who worked with the receivers.

But that didn't make the schedule any easier. The Eagles dropped their first three conference games by a combined 97-29 to Poly, Loyola and City.

With a squad of just six starting seniors, confidence rebuilding could have been immense had it not been for a preseason speech by Working.

"It all started in the summer practices, when coach Working told them to just hang tough through the first few games," said Lynn Badham, head coach at Northwestern last year.

The Eagles responded with victories over Gibbons, 12-7, Calvert Hall, 22-21, Mount St. Joseph, 15-14, and Forest Park, 7-3.

McDonogh faced fourth-quarter deficits against Calvert Hall, Mount St. Joseph and Forest Park, before winning on Rob Allen's 26-yard field goal, a 90-yard Sabelhaus-to-Dennis Badham pass and a 40-yard Sabelhaus-to-Badham pass, respectively.

"We said during the preseason that we'd break the season into two parts," Working said. "We'd spend the first half trying to get the players to understand our system, and the last half trying to make a run at the last five games. It was a great challenge."

) And one Working overcame.

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